Today we were joined by Tony Mason, the Senior Editor of Manchester University Press. He told us a little bit about what a Commissioning Editor does. Before this, I only had a vague idea about what a general editor might do, so this was insightful. I found out that their role varies depending on the publishing house.
In Fiction Publishing: the editors usually read the opening chapters of a selection of books before deciding which one to take to the commissioning meeting (a place where members from different departments get together to discuss whether they should publish the book).
In Academic Publishing: the editors read the proposal of a manuscript or textbook, these are then anonymously peer reviewed before the editor’s take them to a meeting.
Tony explained how the Commissioning Editor is the point of contact for the agents and authors, even if they ring out of hours. It’s their job to direct them to the right team and uphold the publisher’s reputation. Following this, we were given a task to respond to an author’s email (in groups). We all had to provide different types of responses so that we could measure the reaction from the email we received. Tony chose our group to write an nonchalant reply, which made things a bit more difficult as we had never written to an author before, let alone in a particular tone.
We will analyse his reply next week…